By Bodo Ellmers,
The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union met on May 24 in Brussels in order to discuss the First Annual Report on EU Development Aid Targets. The Report to the Council, prepared by the European Commission, had unveiled that EU Member States collectively will have to mobilise an additional amount of approximately EUR 50 billion by 2015 to meet the targets.
The funding gap may actually be much higher. The brand new EU AidWatch Report that was also published in time for the Council meeting has shown that EU Member States still reported €5.2 billion of inflated aid in 2010, equivalent to almost 10% of EU ODA. This amount includes debt cancellation, and spending on student and refugee costs in donor countries. The lack of “real aid” that is actually available for funding development programmes in poor countries has also concerned the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee. They recently estimated that country programmable aid (CPA) will only increase by 2% annually in the coming years, down from 8% per year on average over the past three years. In particular Africa may face a stalemate of finance from DAC donors.
CPA for Africa is projected to increase at about 1% per year, compared to a 13% annual growth rate in the past three years. If these predictions come true, Africa’s funding gap is here to stay: The 2011 DATA Report, just published by Eurodad member ONE, found that the EU delivered only 35% of its committed aid increases to Africa. Only two EU Member States, Denmark and Luxembourg, have met the official EU target for the region.
In this light, the EU reaffirmed all its commitments on official development assistance, which include reaching the UN target of providing 0.7% of gross national income as ODA by 2015, and allocating substantially higher amounts to the Africa region and the Least Developed Countries. According to the European Commission, Member States collectively will have to mobilise by 2015 an additional amount of approximately EUR 50 billion to meet these commitments. The Council Conclusions are however not very compelling when it comes to the how to get there. They read:
“Member States are invited to take realistic, verifiable actions for meeting individual ODA commitments by 2015 and to share information on these actions and their planned ODA spending for the next budgetary year, as well as on their intentions for the remaining period until 2015, while taking into account that these issues fall within the competence of Member States.”
Mobilising ODA falls indeed within the competence of the Member States but the EU’s new aid accountability report has also unveiled that seven of the “old” Members States and all but one of the “new” Members have failed to meet the 2010 targets, some of them by a wide margin. The Commission had made more ambitious proposals to improve compliance of EU Member States with the agreements the Union has made and the targets it has set for itself. A Communication prepared by the Commission in preparation for the Council had called on Member States to take more concrete action, such as enshrining ODA targets in national legislation. But the Council has fended them off: the Conclusions agreed yesterday remain without a credible strategy for scaling-up aid.